I f asked to identify important topics for a new journal on national affairs, few of us would think first — if at all — of the humanities and their condition in American life today. The sorry state of elementary and secondary education would surely make the list, as might the need to improve scientific literacy and technological competence, so that, as we are often told, America may remain competitive in the globalized economy and high-tech world of tomorrow. Attention might be invited also to political correctness in college classrooms or campus restrictions on free speech. But the larger and more important educational issue of what college students should be learning and why — and especially in the humanities — is a subject below the radar for nearly everyone.
Diogenes of Sinope fourth century BC is too irascible a character not en route for share some anecdotes about him as of the compendium of Diogenes Laertius arrange the lives of the philosophers. They illustrate the precepts by which he lived: that personal happiness is content by meeting one's natural needs after that that what is natural cannot be shameful or indecent. His life, as a result, was lived with extreme simplicity, inured to want, and without shame. It was this determination to follow his own dictates and not adhere en route for the conventions of society that he was given the epithet dog, as of which the name cynic is copy. As to why he was called a dog, Diogenes replied, Because I fawn upon those who give me anything, and bark at those who give me nothing, and bite the rogues. Seeing a child drinking as of his hands, Diogenes threw away his cup and remarked, A child has beaten me in plainness of active.
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